Posts Tagged ‘painting’

Painting Warriors of Chaos
Painting Warriors of Chaos avatar

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Now that I’ve consistently been putting paint to minis, I figured it’d be a good idea to do a quick tutorial on how my Warriors of Chaos come to be.  I’ve gotten a few compliments on them, which is always great because they’re quick to whip up to a tabletop standard and look really sharp as a regiment.  This is what we’re going to make:

Step 1: Base Coats

The first step is to get the main colors down.  Take a hefty amount of Scab Red and thin it down a bit.  You’re going to slather it on most of the mini: the head, armor plates, and the front/back of the cape.  Next, take some Calthan Brown and hit the horns, shoes, weapon handle, and fur.  Carefully get the belt as well, don’t worry about painting over the metal buckles.  Finally, take some Boltgun Metal and do the blades, chainmail, and shields.  Make sure to get the edges and back of the shield too!  Here’s where we are so far:

Step 2: Red Stripe

Take some Blood Red and start lining the edges of the armor.  Make sure to get thigh plates, shoulder plates, gloves, and the helmet.  A thin line will suffice.  I’d also advise you get the collar piece, as that’s what will really make the model pop.  Keep a steady hand and if you mess up, you can come back later with more Scab Red.  Here’s what we’re looking for:

Step 3: Orange Line

Now take your finest brush and some Blazing Orange.  You’re going to want to edge the areas you just painted red so that they have a slight line of orange on the outside.  Edging is easiest when you tilt the brush at an angle against the edge you’re highlighting, although this isn’t always possible.  Don’t worry if your edging looks too thin.  Less is more here, and we don’t want the orange to dominate the highlight:

Step 4: Highlights and Washes

Take a lighter metal like Mithril Silver and highlight the edges of blades and the icons on the shield.  Using the same edging technique as before, highlight around the edges of the shield.  Pick out any other metal bits: rivets, bolts, hoops, etc.  Paint the horns in your favorite manner, I chose a Dheneb Stone/Calthan Brown mix.  Drybrush Dheneb stone over the furs, being careful not to touch the cape or helmet.  Finally, get some Badab Black and get ready to wash!  Wash the shield, pushing the wash towards the edges of the icon but off of the icon itself.  Wash the chainmail to make it pop.  Wash the boots and weapon handles to show their natural texture.  Finally, water down a bit of Badab Black and wash the armor plates if you feel your edging is a little rough.  Base to match your table or army, I just drybrush some more Dheneb Stone:

Step 5: Cloaks

My trick to cloaks is simple: blend your way up to the raised areas.  Thin out some Scab Red to make a glaze and paint the cloaks again.  You really want a solid red color, no splotches.  Next, do a 50/50 mix of Scab Red and Blood Red, but with less water.  Paint from the bottom of the cloak upwards, trying to hit the raised folds.  Next do Blood Red on its own, again thinned less.  With each successive layer, you should be painting closer to the center of the raised folds on the cloak, leaving darker colors in the recesses.  Next do 50/50 Blood Red and Blazing Orange, and finally Blazing Orange on its own.  When it’s all said and done, you’ll have some splotches, so use a Baal Red wash to bring it all together.  Note that the washes will take awhile to dry, as seen on the right:

And there you have it!  Finish any remaining cloak accessories (like the skulls) and basing, and you’re done!  Once you get the hang of edging, it shouldn’t take long to rattle off a group of Warriors.  If you’d like a cleaner look, you can smooth out the cloaks and the edging with more layers (i.e. do 2/3 Scab Red and 1/3 Blood Red before the 50/50 mix).  You may get quicker/cleaner results if you use a Citadel Foundation paint for the red tone, such as Mechite Red, but the color will be different from what you see here.

Of course, you could use these techniques with other color palettes if you want your Warriors to bear the mark of another Chaos God.  Using a series of Green/Yellow, Purple/Pink, or Blue/White could easily net similar results with a more Nurgle, Slaanesh, or Tzeentch feeling, respectively.  Good luck!

Primer: Photographing Miniatures
Primer: Photographing Miniatures avatar

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

With my various dalliances into photography, I quickly caught on to certain concepts that were muddling my 40k photos.  Things like exposure, white balance, and focus can be tuned in almost any modern camera.  Whether you have a point-and-shoot or a D-SLR, a few missteps can really ruin the photos of your precious minis.  You spend hours on painting and assembling your models, the least you can do is spend a few minutes taking a proper photo to show them off to the world!  I’m going to use this article to post some photos and give examples of the mistakes I’m talking about.  I won’t be talking about specific cameras or lenses or anything, but if you flip through your user manual you’ll find tips on how to adjust these settings.

White Balance

White balance is a simple concept — the image sensors need to know what white is in order to know what all the other colors are.  The complicated thing is that pure white will look different in various situations.  Certain lighting (sunlight, fluorescent, incandescent) or environmental factors (paint on the walls, surrounding furniture, lampshades) will make white appear to have a different hue or lightness.  Most cameras use presets to change white balance.  There’s the ubiquitous “auto” mode, but they’ll likely include options for various lighting.  More expensive cameras will have a calibration option, which usually asks you to take a picture of a white sheet of paper in order to capture “pure white.”

Improper white balance can ruin pictures of your minis, because your colors will look wrong!  If you spend a lot of time shading and highlighting and picking a proper color palette, you don’t want your camera to make greens look blue.  Here’s an example of pictures with improper and proper white balance.  Note how “yellow” the first picture looks:


Focusing is a concept in all optics.  Your eyes will blur out something far away to make something nearby more clear, or vice versa.  The same is true with cameras.  Your camera needs to know that you’re trying to focus on a 2″ miniature that’s inches away from its lens.  It has no way of knowing whether you want the  miniature, the pattern of the paper towel it’s sitting on, or the beautiful woman behind it.  Most cameras rely on an auto-focus mechanism, based on what the center of the viewfinder is pointed at.  It’s common for cameras to have a two-stage process: press the shutter button down slightly to gain (and lock) the focus on a particular element, then press it completely down to take the photo.  This allows you to frame a shot and focus on something that’s not in the middle of the photo.  More expensive cameras will offer a manual focus ring so you can get the right focus yourself.

Having a picture out of focus will make your miniature appear blurry, plain and simple.  This is one of the most common problems you’ll see on websites.  Not only will pictures look blurry, but as a result the colors will be crushed together.  By nature of being out of focus, lighting detail is lost, so you’ll lose some of the precious highlights and shading you’ve done.  One way to improve the focusing is to use “macro” mode, which is usually denoted by a flower icon.  Macro mode tells your camera that you’ll be looking to get up-close-and-personal with objects right in front of the lens.  We all know what blurry photos look like, so instead here’s an example of how your camera can focus on different things in the same shot:

Exposure, Flash, and You

Exposure is the technical term for the way your camera’s aperture opens.  It’s useful in making light areas appear lighter, or dark areas look darker.  Most cameras these days will allow you to change your exposure to be positive or negative, taking brighter or darker pictures respectively.  It should be noted that opening the aperture longer makes the picture brighter, but also requires the lens to move faster.  This results in pictures taking a relatively long time to snap.  If you’ve got proper lighting, you won’t need to raise your exposure drastically and it won’t be an issue.  Exposure can often be adjusted on your computer afterwards, in programs like Photoshop or iPhoto.

Too low of an exposure will make your darks too dark.  Too high of an exposure will make your lights too light.  Most often you see photos where a model’s colors look washed out, and this is due to overexposure.  When the exposure is too high, the camera makes some light into too much light, and thus you’ll end up with pale colors.  We’ve all seen this, and the best solution is better lighting.  You don’t need a lighting studio — use light at a soft angle, turn off the flash, and up the exposure a little.  Tweak those variables until you start seeing the differences you want to.  Here’s a photo underexposed/overexposed/properly-exposed:

Keep these settings in mind whenever you start taking pictures to show off your work!  By no means do I claim to be a photography or painting expert, but no matter what camera you have, you should be able to tweak these 3 things and your photos will be better off as a result.

WHFB: Color Scheme Woes
WHFB: Color Scheme Woes avatar

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Having talked about starting WHFB, and the similarities and differences with 40k, I’ve omitted a pretty important part of the hobby: painting.  Painting up a Fantasy army is going to be very different from painting a 40k army.  Sure, you’ve got plastic models, acrylic paints, and brushes.  As I’ve started to build up my Warriors of Chaos though, I’m realizing that there’s some additional factors to consider when deciding on a paint scheme.  As usual, most of these differences stem from the fact that the games focus on two different styles of squad combat.  Even with my horde of 40k Imperial Guardsmen, the unit coherency rules allow them to be spaced 2″ apart.  Consistency in color palette really ties the unit together.

In Fantasy, you’re dealing with large blocks of units.  It’s pretty common to have 20-40 units strewn together in rank and file, in comparison to 40k’s units of 5-15.  This means that having similar colors can work against you, because rather than visually tying the models together they begin to bleed together.  You need to find a way to delineate where one model ends and another begins, yet they still need to look like they’re part of the same squad (and the same army!).

I want to take this opportunity to show some of the ideas I considered with my Warriors of Chaos, and point out some of the issues I think people can run into.  First up is a pretty vanilla metallic paint scheme:

This is hardly an adventurous scheme.  It’s remarkably easy to paint, and certainly doesn’t look awful, but you can tell that it needs some highlighting and edging.  A wash or two of Badab Black wouldn’t hurt either.  The problem with schemes like this, which I’m seeing a lot, is that you end up with a sea of silver models.  This doesn’t do your army or the models themselves any justice.  You need color to break up the pieces of the model itself.  This also helps to make one model appear distinct enough from another model.

Let’s look at another idea.  The new Warrior sports a dark red armor, highlighted and edged up with blood red and blazing orange.  Due to the poses of these models, the shields will always be butting against another Warrior’s red armor, helping to break it up.  The edging on the armor clearly defines where some plates start and other plates end.  You can use a similar palette to paint up troops that correspond to your favorite god, using greens and yellows for Nurgle, for instance.  The work doesn’t end here though.  You need to consider how you’ll be seeing your models on the table, i.e. from the back:

I went with more red here, which seems at first blush that it would be too much red.  For other armies, that may be true.  The Chaos Warriors are unique in that they have pretty much no overlap between their front and rear profiles.  The surface area of the cape is pretty vast, yet almost impossible to see from the front.  This means that you don’t have to worry about repeating colors from one side to the other.  This is a boon to us Fantasy painters, because it seems that lots of armies have rank and file troopers with capes and cloaks.  I’m a big fan of using a bit of contrast, as I’ve done here with the Dheneb Stone fur, as it breaks up the model a bit.  Remember that your basing can give you some contrast as well.  Consider using something vertical, such as the long side edges of the cape, to highlight and provide another edge to break up one file from another.

Don’t be afraid to try a few different schemes!  With the snap-together models that GW has available for many races, it’s easy to pick up some troopers on the cheap and try a new scheme.  Best of luck, and remember to always rank them up before you call it a day!

(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up!
(Re)Starting 40k: Paint up! avatar

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Up until now, I’ve focused on some gaming aspects of 40k: picking an army, learning to write lists, etc.  But once you’ve got 500 points planned out, it’s time to pull some plastic and paint them up!  As a result, I’ll be showing you how I’m going to paint up my Imperial Guard army.  Some people prefer to come up with their army’s background (sometimes called fluff) before coming up with a paint scheme.  After all, having an identity and story in mind makes it easier to build, convert, and paint the characters and units of your army.  I prefer to work opposite: I paint up something I know will look respectable on the table, and come up with background from there!

Keep in mind that if you’re painting a very numerous army, such as the Imperial Guard, you can expect to do a lot of painting.  Speed may be your priority here.  The important thing isn’t necessarily that you have Golden Demon skills, but that you have the patience and planning to get a lot done.  Pick simple schemes, plan on using washes if possible, and don’t worry if each model isn’t perfect.  By nature of playing a horde army, you’re going to take a lot of casualties, so they won’t spend much time on the table!

For my IG, I really wanted to do an urban, sort of arctic camouflage pattern.  Here’s an overview of what we’ll be making:

For this, you’ll need these paints (I use GW, use what you prefer):

  • Regal blue
  • Scorched brown
  • Dwarf flesh
  • Shadow grey
  • Space Wolves grey
  • Boltgun/Chainmail/Mithril (your choice)

Step 1: Basecoat

Your first goal is to get a base of regal blue down.  If you have a spray paint that’s a dark blue, that’ll work wonders and save you oodles of time.  If not, just prime black and thin out some of the Regal Blue and cover the entire model in it.  I’m a big fan of gluing down a sand or something before painting, that way the primer helps get it, but to each his own.  You should have something like this now:

Step 2: Skin and Accessories

Do a coat of Scorched Brown over the heads and hands of your guardsmen.  I’d also advise using it to hit any canteens, sheathes, etc.  If you’re painting a sergeant with no helmet, get the whole head!  I like the color of Scorched Brown for hair, so no worries there:

Step 3: Armor, Helmets, Camo

Now the easy part.  Paint up some Shadow Grey (the darker, bluer one) and paint the armor.  Get the shoulder straps, and under the arms.  Also get the ankle cuffs and helmet.  Next, start dabbling on the camo spots!  The Shadow Grey should show up just fine on the Regal Blue, so you shouldn’t need to worry about doing multiple coats, and you can thin it a bit.  Make different shapes and sizes, and make sure to go in different directions.  I personally like the look of a blob that stretches across folds and in creases, as it adds a bit of depth.  Finally, take a tiny bit of paint on your brush and lightly drag the side of the brush on the top edges of the lasgun.  This will keep the gun from looking like a blue blob in the model’s hand, and should get you familiar with edging (which we’ll need soon).  Here’s a few shots of how I do the blobbing and camo:

Step 4: Finish the Skin

I’m a big proponent of painting from the inside out, because I’m pretty sloppy and tend to mess things up when I try and get in close…especially when you’ve got a hundred of these guys to whip up!  So I’d recommend doing the skin now.  Take some dwarf flesh and hit the face and hands.  I’m not great at staying in the lines, and I don’t advise trying to paint the eyes.  After you’ve painted your best of the fingers, hands, and face do a wash with some really watered down Scorched Brown.

Step 5: Edging and Camo

Now you’re going to need to crack open the Space Wolves Grey (the one that’s almost white).  Hopefully you’re more comfortable with edging, because we’re going to be doing a lot of it.  The same way you did on the lasgun, paint the edges on the armor.  This includes the hard edges on the back, the shoulder pads, the straps between the shoulders/head, and the pad things on the side of the helmets.  Also make sure to throw some paint on the Imperial Eagles you see on the chest/helmet/lasgun.  Finally, the same way you did with the Shadow Grey, do some camo dabbles.  Mix it up a bit…make sure you’re not just making vertical or horizontal streaks.  Let some blobs overlap, but not others.  Allow some blobs to have tiny holes in them through which you can see the Regal Blue or Shadow Grey underneath.

Step 6: Metal

Whip out whichever metallic paint you decided to go with and start painting.  Make sure to get bayonets, lasgun barrels, the little rods on top of the lasguns (takes a bit longer but adds a lot more color to the gun).  When you’ve done all that, take a bigger brush you don’t mind drybrushing with, and drybrush the metal over your sand on the ground.  Most people stick with a gray/white highlight combo but I personally feel like a futuristic theme should have more metallic rubble.  Plus it complements the small amount of metal on the model quite nicely.

Step 7: Accessories

If you feel like it, go ahead and paint a lighter brown (snakebite leather or such) over the leather accessories to give them a bit more color.  I personally don’t think it adds much and takes too much time to worry about now, so I put that all off for later.  Also, grab some Dark Angels Green if you wish and put a few coats on the grenades.  Lightly take your metallic color and paint the pin and primer devices on the grenades.  If you do it carefully and well, it looks really slick.

Step 8: Touchups

Now’s the time to go back over and fix any little slip-ups you may have had with the brush.  If you messed up the edging on the armor or painting the face, go back with Shadow Grey.  If you splotched a bit on the lasgun, go back and cover it up with Regal Blue.  The nice thing is that for the most part, the only touchups you’ll need to do is with those colors.

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Painting Your Wrack
Painting Your Wrack avatar

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Last week we assembled some horrific Dark Eldar Wracks. Now no respectable haemonculus would dare send these into the webway without looking appropriately evil and dark. Now I don’t know about you but all that gray is not exactly terror inducing. Okay, enough talk, let’s paint.

Pre-step 1: Paint it Black
Prime the models black and if you wish before you prime, go ahead and put a layer of modeling sand down for basing purposes (this is what I prefer).

Step 1: Skin
Wracks spend most of their time in the lightless obliettes of the hamonculi, so their skin should be appropriately pallid and gross. So I’ll start with a layer of astronomicon grey, then follow up with a leviathan purple wash. When that dries completely give it a drybrush of astronomicon grey and then follow up with a drybrush of skull white.

Step 2: Clothes
Dark Eldar are not known for wearing brightly colored clothes, wracks are no exception. For the wracks that are wearing robes and trousers we are going to make those into dark leather clothing items. Go ahead and start with painting them chaos black. When that dries give it a very light drybrush of codex gray, you might need to do this a few times to get the highlights to show.

For the wracks that are also wearing aprons, start with a deneb stone basecoat, then give a delvan mud wash. After that dries follow up with a bleached bone drybrush.

Step 3: Metal Bits
Now for the weapons and the mask. Paint those boltgun metal. Let that dry completely then apply washes of badab black until they look appropriately greasy and sinister. After your washes dry give them a quick drybrush of mithril silver to bring out the highlights.

Step 4: Bone Growth
My idea behind how I painted the bone growths is that I would blend from the skin tone to a bone color (bleached bone and deneb stone work great) and blend my way up to black to represent all of the alchemical abuse these guys endure under the service of the haemonculi.

Step 5: Details… Details…
Get creative! Grab some purple and some dark red. Using a really fine brush go in and make some veins here and there. Be sure to base your model as well! Get some brown and darker red to make blood splatters on the aprons and masks and sparingly on the weapons. As with any detail don’t go overboard, too many details can make your model look busy and messy. A few well-placed blood splatters will be far more effective than coating your model in gore.

Next time: Locomotives on Legs: My Encounter with Warmachine MKII


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Do-it-Yourself Wracks
Do-it-Yourself Wracks avatar

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Just like many GW codex/army book releases you normally have to wait a while to have all of the new shiny models in neat boxes firmly attached to sprues. The Dark Eldar are no different. Among those that don’t look like they will be getting models for an appreciable amount of time are the Wracks. So I’ve decided to try my hand at making a few sinister assistants myself.